I didn’t always hate Will Shortz. I used to look forward to Weekend Edition on NPR to hear the Sunday Puzzle. I’d submit answers regularly to the weekly puzzles but never got picked to play on the air. I was fine with that.
But shortly after I turned 18, I thought of my own puzzle and eagerly submitted it on September 29, 2006. I got a reply within a week that stated that they’d received it, and therefore it was property of Will Shortz.
I felt that was fine because he credits people on the air. If they use it, my name will be attached to it.
After a little more than four years of silence about it, I heard my submission on the radio–altered negligibly. The good thing was that he didn’t mispronounce my last name. The bad thing was that he didn’t say my name at all.
I was hurt by that. For years I had felt that there still was a chance–no matter how remote–that my submission would be used. I was elated when I heard it used. I was so proud.
And I kept waiting for my name to be mentioned. Almost a decade later, I’m still waiting.
It’s not that I absolutely need the recognition. I’ve mentioned things I’ve thought up to friends of mine that they’ve happily used in performance. It was reward enough to have made something worth using. But there was precedent here. I’d heard him give credit every week. It wasn’t for anything other than for the puzzle of the week, but I never thought that he wouldn’t credit me for using what I’d submitted on my own.
Here’s the link to the episode: https://www.npr.org/transcripts/131999636